Thursday, July 14, 2016

May You Never

Whenever I hear a Tory Prime Minister announcing their intention to govern for all the population and not just a privileged elite, my instinctive reaction is to recall the words of wisdom uttered by those great philosophers at the University of Woolloomooloo: "Howls of derisive laughter, Bruce".

However, Theresa May's first speech as PM yesterday was interesting for going into considerable detail on the existence of specific social barriers to upward mobility - barriers rarely acknowledged to exist by those in her party.  This marks a clear turn away from the crude Thatcher philosophy that if you're poor it's just because you don't work hard enough, and back to the "One Nation" Toryism of the Macmillan days - though perhaps with less of the whiff of noblesse oblige that accompanied it then.

May has an unenviable job ahead - she will be judged primarily on how successfully she can implement a policy opposed by almost half the British people, 2 of its 4 constituent nations, its largest city, and she herself - not to mention me.

All At Sea

Thursday, June 23, 2016

No Laughing Matter Really

Having lived out of Britain for four decades, I no longer have a vote there, so I can't participate in today's referendum on EU membership.  If I could, I would vote to stay in.  Not only are many of the "Leave" arguments exaggerated and unrealistic, but the campaign to quit seems to attract a large number of xenophobes and racists, as Jo Cox's murder sadly indicates.

I have long felt that Britain would have far more influence in the EU if it was less half-hearted about its membership.  For example instead of coming back every few years to squeeze a better deal out of the other members, it should propose a long-term mechanism which would periodically review every member country's contributions to ensure they remained fair, then seek support from other countries to implement it.

If Britain does vote to leave, I predict that within a few years Scotland will vote again on whether to remain in a United Kingdom that would be very different from the one they chose to remain in last time.  Having secured their independence, they would then reapply for EU membership, leaving the rump of the UK out in the cold with diminished influence.  But hey, at least Boris Johnson's ego would be stroked.  What could be more important?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Equal Opportunity Candidate

Special bonus: how Donald Trump will start World War Three!

Calling the North Korean leader "Fat Boy" to his face, instead of behind his back like every other world leader.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Who's Cruzy Now?

Iowa Republican caucuses winner Ted Cruz's victory speech - after the obligatory nod to God - sought to project him as a grassroots anti-establishment candidate, an outsider.  The next President of the United States, he claimed, "will not be chosen by the Washington establishment" and "will not be chosen by the lobbyists".  Presumably this indicates that Cruz - a Senator in Washington, whose campaign contributors [and here] include a bunch of SuperPACs as well as the usual Wall Street suspects like the oil and gas industry and financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, the controversial investment bank up to its ears in both the 2008 financial crisis and the Greek debt crisis - does not expect to become the next President!

Cruz is no stranger to self-contradiction - according to the BBC, as solicitor general "he argued in favour of the death penalty and late-term abortion bans", thereby contriving to be simultaneously both pro-life and anti-life!  But that is a contradiction he shares with most of the religious right wing in America, to whom human life is apparently more valuable before birth than afterwards.

Cruz is not of course the only Republican candidate who hasn't thought things through - Marco Rubio, third-placed Republican candidate in Iowa, blames mental illness for America's epidemic of gun violence.  At the same time, he has vowed to dismantle President Obama's health care reforms which have made health care more affordable for millions.  Perhaps he wants more untreated nutcases roaming the streets with guns?

One of the stated aims of this blog is "to make sense of the world".  Guys like this make that very difficult,